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‘Confusion’ in accreditation process

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Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2012 12:05 am

The St. Louis Public School District earned enough progress points this year to qualify for provisional accreditation status, according to annual state evaluation reports released on Tuesday.

But the state is not ready to give SLPS that status, said Chris Nicastro, commissioner of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE). Nicastro wants to see three years of improvement from St. Louis, making the earliest time for consideration next year, she said. And that will be her recommendation to the state board of education.

“St. Louis at this point appears to be a success story,” Nicastro said. “But (SLPS Superintendent) Kelvin Adams would be the first to say they have a long way to go.”

However, SLPS Superintendent Kelvin Adams said the district has made improvement for the past three years in various tested areas – including the most recent state evaluation.

The SLPS district earned seven points out of the 14 points possible in the annual performance report (APR) from the Missouri School Improvement Program. That is one more standard met than last year. SLPS earned a point for meeting the standard in high-school algebra – giving Adams the student performance category point that he’s been gunning for this year.

A K-12 school district must meet at least nine of the 14 accreditation standards to be fully accredited and at least six to be provisionally accredited. Since 2007, St. Louis has been unaccredited and under the control of a special administrative board.

However, the district has met all the guidelines to be provisionally accredited, Adams said.

“It’s a matter of policy,” he said. “The district should be considered for provisional accreditation. I am going to fight really hard for the students, families and workers in our district.”

The state’s two other unaccredited school districts, Riverview Gardens and Kansas City, also saw gains. Riverview gained a point from last year, moving it up to four, and Kansas City met five standards, up from three a year ago.

“I think what we’ve seen in St. Louis is effective improvement,” Nicastro said. “We would certainly take some credit for that. Most credit for that goes to the local superintendent and the board. We can’t improve schools from Jefferson City, and we certainly acknowledge that.”

Normandy graduation rate

Normandy School District, which is provisionally accredited, met five standards. Normandy Superintendent Stanton Lawrence said he believes the district should have earned six points – one point for the graduation rate.

Over the next few weeks, Nicastro will review Normandy’s progress and six other districts before making recommendations to the board on their accreditation status.

Two years ago Normandy became the first provisionally-accredited school district in the country to absorb another school district that the state had closed, Lawrence said.

“When we had conversations with DESE at that time, they assured us that they would do everything in their power to make sure Normandy succeeded,” Lawrence said.

“We embraced those young people because it was the right thing to do. They are Normandy kids now. We have a lot of work to do to get their academic skill levels to be where it needs to be. We are trying to encourage the state to be sensitive to this work.”

‘Not written in policy’

Normandy is one of nine provisionally accredited districts in the state, and it has two fewer points than SLPS. The state has been inconsistent in how it awards provisional accreditation and that can be challenging, Adams said. Though Nicastro said the improvement needs to be consistent over a certain period of time, Adams said that’s not state policy – that’s Nicastro’s perception.

“That is not written in the policy,” Adams said. “There may be a level of confusion.”

What makes Adams fight even more crucial is that DESE will change its evaluation process this year. And during the transition to the new system “MSIP 5,” the department will not be changing any district’s accreditation status until 2015, said Sarah Potter, DESE spokeswoman. The board would make an exception if any district could show “sustained improvement,” she said, but otherwise it will be a three-year wait.

Both Lawrence and Adams said their districts aren’t anywhere close to where they want them to be, but they are encouraged by the positive movement in their districts. And both will be fighting hard to convince the state board to approve provisional accreditation.

“I’m not celebrating the success,” Lawrence said. “It’s like we’ve been in the desert and we see a little water and think we’ve arrived. But we haven’t.”

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  • ogel posted at 8:00 am on Wed, Apr 23, 2014.

    ogel Posts: 493

    Black children can't afford to be "provisional" anything.

    Stop misleading these parents and young people.

    Black children have to be better than the best. Old Black people used to say "99 and a half won't do, you've got to make a hundred to make it in!"

    Dr. King would say in his own words that even if you had to be a street sweeper, you have to be the best street sweeper there is.

    All children seeking college admissions will have to take the same admissions tests. There is no such thing as a "provisional" test for those students who spent all of their school years in a "provisionally" accredited school system.

    Companies that seek to hire are not interested in putting students who have been "provisionally" educated at the helm of their organizations. They want only the best and brightest.

    Take a poll. How many children of the areas teachers and administrators currently attend "provisionally" accredited educational institutions.

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  • Katherinekatie posted at 1:02 pm on Fri, Nov 8, 2013.

    Katherinekatie Posts: 1

    There are schools in the District that are makings great strives, but that is not the majority. I am a parent who has had my hand of partnership slapped away so many times at my childrens's school it is not funny.

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  • Disappointed SLPS Parent posted at 9:53 am on Fri, Aug 17, 2012.

    Disappointed SLPS Parent Posts: 1

    Ok, I am making this statement because it is always a discussion on why SLPS has not been able to make the strides it would like to make. Well with me being a soon to be former SLPS parent I can give a small bite of insight. I can say that the vision of our Dr. Adams is not share or supported on the local school level most of the time. While Dr. Adams is fighting for a District, many of our principals are just advocating for a job. They do not have a heart for children, or at least the children in their schools and they do the bare minimum and sale it to the District as the best and blame the parents and students for the rest. There are schools in the District that are makings great strives, but that is not the majority. I am a parent who has had my hand of partnership slapped away so many times at my childrens's school it is not funny. It is said by the District that parents and families are welcomed in the District well that may be true but they are not welcome at a lot of the schools. If the District wants to stabalize and improve they have got to allow parents a voice and a place in our childrens schools and there needs to be true accountability. We are not all ghetto, uneducated parents. There are some Diamonds in the ruff but they are pushed out everyday at the local school level. Parents are promised one thing of SLPS school, only to find out that they have been fooled. For instance the Visual and Performing Arts Schools have had the Arts cut and at one of the Elementary schools, they don't even have a Drama Department. Most of the children have little or no true exposure to the Arts up until the time they get to 3rd grade, and the question is what are they doing from Pre-K to 3rd grade and the answer is nothing. This is one of the schools that the District sales as one of its premier schools because it is a magnet school but it is far from it. The people chosen to lead these schools most of the time have no vision and have no idea of partnership and working together. It is a sad and poor excuse for a Visual and Performing Arts school, but it is what some think is what our children deserve, and those people sit in the offices of the school buildings that our children go to everyday.

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